A report this week in The Guardian titled, "Texas Rattlesnake Butchering Festival Continues Despite Objections", would make you think that Texans are nothing but blood-thirsty rednecks with no hearts, souls, or sympathy for those poor little snakie-snakes. Jeesh!
The problem with people like this is they believe that these deadly reptiles will leave us alone if we just leave them alone, let nature be nature. They're the same kind of folks that believe wind and solar can replace coal, natural gas and nuclear power. For those of us that live in the real world welcome to Sweetwater, Texas, the home of the world's largest rattlesnake roundup, an event that has literally put this small Texas town on the map. People from all over the world attend the Roundup which has been an annual event now for 64 years and it's a huge money-maker for the town. The roundup took place last weekend and was a tremendous success, as always.
The Sweetwater JC's host the Roundup each year and it's a major fundraiser for their organization. The Roundup takes up the whole weekend starting with the parade on Thursday and the Miss Snake Charmer Pageant Thursday night. There's a Rattlesnake Cookoff, Gun & Knife Show, the Carnival is there all weekend, and you can even get really involved if you have the courage with guided snake hunts available too.
All in all several thousand snakes are rounded up each year which does a nice job of clearing the immediate area of a very dangerous breed of snake, which in turn protects children, pets, livestock, farm and ranch workers, the elderly, virtually everyone from accidental and potentially deadly encounters.
They also would like you to know that these snakes are in no species danger at all, there are millions of them across the desert southwestern United States.
In the Roundup, all of the snake is used as well; The skins are made into boots, belts and other clothing, the meat is cooked and it's delicious by the way. The venom is used to make life-saving medicines and anti-venom, even the heads are used in various ways like decorations, souvenirs and such.
So not only does the Roundup keep the local rattler population somewhat under control, but it's a huge economic boost for the community each year.
If that makes you hate on Sweetwater, they're OK with that.
If skinning snakes bothers you, don't watch. Nobody looks at how many products are made, but most folks really appreciate a new pair of soft leather shoes, while eating a burger, with bacon.
The video below is a piece that National Geographic did back in 2010, very little has changed I'm sure, but for the squeamish, you may not want to watch this one.
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